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From Here To Singularity

"The time from here to Singularity depends sensitively on the particulars of what we humans do during the next decade (and even the next few years)."

Archive for internet

Bilconference: The numbers…

1.8 billion people have access to the internet.
58% of them use it daily.
11.5 billion web pages
66.2 billion web queries/month

Look! Up in the sky! It’s Virtual Earth! (video)

Following on from yesterday’s post (well, not really) is this TED video demonstrating the latest in virtual real reality processing. Something tells me that this isn’t going to be as good as the real thing. But, I sure if we wait a decade or so…

Microsoft’s Stephen Lawler gives a whirlwind tour of Virtual Earth, moving up, down and through its hyperreal cityscapes with dazzlingly fluidity, a remarkable feat that requires staggering amounts of data to bring into focus. Google might still be ahead of the game, but even in beta, Virtual Earth shows incredible promise. Microsoft’s visions for the product — as a provider of real-time weather and traffic data, or a realistic backdrop for game developers and IM conversations, or virtual ad space — all seem well within the limits of possibility.

TED | Talks | Stephen Lawler: Look! Up in the sky! It’s Virtual Earth! (video)

Online forums can yield quality advice, research finds.

In my professional and personal life I have found great use for online forums. They are of immense value to geographically scattered but like-minded individuals focused on a specific area of human expertise. What we have, is a cognitive artefact that facilitates peer advising via the electronic medium.

That’s a rather fancy way of saying they are a good way of sharing information with other people who share a particular vocation or hobby. There are forums for all sorts of things, from dealing with acne, to recording rock bands, to political activism (there are plenty of those), along with mailing lists that have been functioning for aeons (those are online forums, too), as well as plenty purely for the entertainment of their members.

So this study regarding the efficacy of advice to be found in online forum discussions comes as no surprise.

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – People who seek out general weight loss information via Internet forums will, more often than not, receive correct information, especially if the messages are posted on heavily trafficked Internet sites, results of a study suggest.

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PsyBlog | Frown and the Net Frowns With You, But Smile and You Smile Alone

smileyInteresting research on how we interpret online language and communication.

PsyBlog | Psychology Blog: Frown and the Net Frowns With You, But Smile and You Smile Alone
according to a study which assessed the effects of smileys 🙂 and frownies 🙁 as I’m now calling them. Walther and D’Addario (2001) found that while smileys had no effect on the way a message was interpreted, frowns did reduce the positivity of positive messages. Overall, though, the effect of emoticons was relatively small.

Language and communication are constantly evolving. and as language and communication evolve, so do we. And, as technology affects the evolution of language and communication, so so it affects our evolution.

So, this relatively minor research finding is a harbinger of many more changes to come.

Recycling intelligence. Well, pilfering it from humans, really.

Still, despite the improvement of pattern matching I refer to in that last post, there are some things that humans will be doing better than machines for a while yet.

We use this to determine whether a web visitor is a human, or a machine. .

And systems have been built to farm out tasks that are beyond the ken of machines, in an automated manner, such as amazon’s mechanical turk.

Mechanical Turk gets it’s name from an 18h century mechanical chess playing machine, that turned out to be a guy hiding under the table, pretending to be a machine. At amazon’s mechanical turk service, you can sign up to be paid for doing simple tasks that a machine can’t do. Or to have others do those simple tasks for you, via a web interface. (I won’t go into the failure of mturk as a business model, or the abysmal pay rates, the proliferation of sketchy, spammy tasks to do, etc. Perhaps that needs to be discussed on it’s own. The technology is there, and works quite well.) mturk
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